April 15, 2012: Santorum Drops Out

It looks like the Republican primary is finally reaching its end, as Rick Santorum officially suspended his campaign on Tuesday. Santorum said that while he might have liked to stay in the race until the Republican convention is August, his campaign funds “dried up,” a situation he attributed in part to the media narrative about his impossible odds. At the time of his announcement, most tabulations had him holding a firm second-place position in the primary.

In any case, with Mitt Romney holding a dominant lead over his other two Republican rivals, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, it looks inevitable that Romney will be the nominee to challenge incumbent Barack Obama in November, particularly if he scoops up Santorum’s supporters. Not that Gingrich and Paul are eager to abandon their campaigns — both have vowed to keep up the fight — but without Santorum to help siphon delegates from Romney, the leader’s odds of reaching the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination just got a lot better.

As Romney looks to move forward and learn from his primary battle, he and Obama are intensifying their war of words, effectively ignoring the presence of the increasingly irrelevant Gingrich and Paul. Earlier this week, Obama pushed his “Buffett tax,” named after billionaire businessman Warren Buffett, which would impose a higher minimum tax rate for the wealthiest Americans. The move says quite a bit about the political climate — typically, tax hikes right before an election cause problems for the incumbent candidate, but Obama is confident that voters support his plan. Part of his strategy involves targeting Romney, whose Republican rivals attacked his use of legal loopholes and Swiss bank accounts to lower his tax payments. While his fiscal decisions were legal, most analysts say, they hardly win favor with voters struggling to make ends meet.

That’s the other curious part of Obama’s move: with the economy still in poor shape, he may be playing to Americans’ fears about their own financial situations in targeting the top income brackets for tax hikes. This does, however, leave an opening for Romney to challenge Obama about his role in the “assault on our economic freedom.” Romney eventually went a step further to say that the economic strife had hit female workers harder than their male counterparts, citing statistics that appear to indicate 92% of the jobs lost from January 2009 through March 2012 belonged to women. This statistic would certainly hurt Obama’s chances of winning over the key female demographic, although he immediately retorted by calling Romney’s claim “bogus” and arguing that “the worst economic crisis that we’ve seen since the Great Depression” was caused by the policies of former president George W. Bush, not his own efforts.

In technology news, the ill-fated Megaupload may be gone, but the treasure trove of data it held is still up for grabs. Megaupload, the digital upload/download service which was shut down in January amidst charges of massive copyright infringement, contained 25 petabytes of data, which amounts to roughly half the size of the Library of Congress. Now that the government has seized control of its servers and pressed charges against its owners, no one knows exactly what to do with all of it, especially since the disconnected servers are currently being housed in a climate-controlled storage facility that is costing Megaupload’s owners $37,000 a month.

Five different parties argued their views on the matter during a U.S. District Court hearing on Friday, and while everyone had firm opinions on the matter, no one wanted to take the data. Most of the groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America (RIAA), wanted the government to take custody of the data. Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, declined to take custody, leaving open the possibility that the data might simply be deleted. Megaupload’s owners desperately want to keep that from happening, especially since their lawyers hope to use some of the data to build a legal defense. For now, U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady has ordered the parties to negotiate over the next two weeks in order to develop a solution that all parties support.

A series of shootings in Tulsa, Oklahoma were all over the news earlier this week, as five people were shot around 1:00 a.m. on April 7 in what was described as “a black neighborhood” of the city. Three of the victims were killed, while the other two are expected to survive their attacks. Two white men were ultimately arrested for the murders, and authorities believe they were connected to comments that one of the suspects, 19-year-old Jake England, wrote on his Facebook page shortly beforehand. England, using a racial slur, said that it had been two years since his father was killed by a black man, and that “I’m gone in the head.” On Friday, England and his roommate, 33-year-old Alvin Watts, were charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of shooting with intent to kill, and five counts of malicious harassment. The harassment charges indicate that the victims were targeted because of their race — in other words, England and Watts are being charged with hate crimes — although England has since protested that he is not a racist, as he “always got along with everybody” regardless of their race when he was growing up.

This weekend may bring some dangerous weather to the midwest, as the Storm Prediction Center issued an “unusually strong tornado warning” for yesterday, marking only the second time in U.S. history that the organization has issued a high-risk warning more than 24 hours in advance. The first time was in April 2006, when almost 100 tornadoes ripped through the southeastern U.S., killing 12 people and damaging over a thousand homes. The worst of the weather was expected to come late yesterday, although the first few twisters hit on Friday, and there is also the possibility of severe weather extending into Sunday. These storms are likely to do especially great damage to Kansas and Oklahoma, but storms may span all the way from eastern California to the western tip of New York.

Let’s wrap up with a few more wacky stories. A physicist from the University of California-San Diego beat a traffic ticket for rolling through a stop sign by writing a paper about the differences between angular and linear motion. As Dmitri Krioukov argued, because the officer only saw his car from the side, it distorted his perception of how fast the vehicle was moving. Then, when the officer’s view was blocked by a passing car when Krioukov reached the stop sign, the disruption made it appear that he never actually made his brief stop, as he was still moving before the disruption and had begun driving again by the time the other vehicle cleared the officer’s line of sight. As Krioukov put it, his paper was “awarded a special prize of $400 that the author did not have to pay to the state of California.”

Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi, a Malaysian woman who competes in shooting events for her country, is set to participate in the 10m air rifle event during the Olympics this summer. The only problem: by then, she will be eight months pregnant. Her doctors have tentatively cleared her to participate, and Suryani says that if she feels as energized then as she does now, she plans to compete. Others have certainly questioned her decision, and Suryani has indeed made some concessions for the sake of her unborn child: she will leave Olympic village before the Closing Ceremony, since doctors recommend that she not fly after the 35-week mark of her pregnancy, and she is also declining to participate in the 50m air rifle competition even though she qualified for that event, as well. I suppose that’s still not quite as dangerous as Bear Grylls’ first pitch at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. Grylls, who is best known as the survivalist from the television show Man vs. Wild, lit the baseball on fire before throwing it to the reluctant catcher Matt Treanor.

Since we mentioned the Olympics, it’s worth noting that Keith Moon, the drummer from The Who, was invited to play in the London Games this summer. Unfortunately, Moon has been dead for 34 years. As the band’s manager Bill Curbishley said,

I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to the Who’s anthemic line, ‘I hope I die before I get old.’ If they have a round table, some glasses and candles, we might contact him.

Other articles of interest:
Ind. lawmakers ponder reaction to $206M mistake
Failed launch is setback for North Korea’s new leader
Apple denies US accusation of collusion on e-books
Vietnam man buys little piece of American dream
Google’s Spreading Tentacles of Influence
Facebook weighs in on cybersecurity legislation
Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?
How to count penguins from space
Scientists on Earth Spot Aurora Around Uranus
Shift workers ‘risking’ Type 2 diabetes and obesity
Gatorade Goes Back to the Lab
Yellowfin tuna linked to salmonella outbreak in 20 states
Cupertino company recalls tuna after Salmonella outbreak
Y! Big Story: Pink slime and other food fights
Player in Italy Dies After Collapsing During Game
Aaron Harang sets consecutive strikeout record in Dodgers’ win
Masters fans not thrilled by Woods’ latest tantrum

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2 responses to “April 15, 2012: Santorum Drops Out”

  1. klingermajoshua says :

    I was hoping that Rick Santorum would stay in to the very end. Out of the 4 republicans running, he was my favorite. I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney because he’s not entirely incompetent, I don’t like Gingrich because he’s weak and old, and I definitely don’t like Ron Paul because of his foreign policy sucks. Obama overall is just worst than the other three candidates so I don’t care which republican wins at this point. Obama is an inexperienced, lying/ tw0-faced hypocrite who points the finger at everyone else.

    • brianbritt says :

      Well, I agree that Santorum’s presence made the primary more interesting, Josh; with Romney’s top rival now out of the game, he can just waltz to the nomination. I can understand why Santorum dropped out, though. His chances of even making it to the convention were shrinking by the day, and with his campaign fund perpetually empty, the drawn-out process was looking like a lost cause that would only serve to weaken the eventual nominee.

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